10 Tips for Coping with Stress as a Nurse

10 Tips for Coping with Stress as a Nurse
Last Updated:  |   Staff Writers |   Career

Becoming a nurse may have been a dream come true for you. Now that you've been on the job for a while, however, you may be struggling to cope with the enormous amounts of stress that nurses are typically under. Without being careful, you may get so burned out that your job performance will suffer. Avoid this problem by implementing the following 10 stress-reducing tips for nurses.

  1. Get Regular Exercise - Sure, you're on your feet all day while working as a nurse. However, it's still important to set aside time for regular exercise too. Getting out there and being active is one of the best stress relievers around, and you don't have to push yourself too hard. In fact, just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day can make a huge difference.
  2. Make Sleep A Priority - As a busy nurse, it is often tempting to burn the candle at both ends. However, staying up into the wee hours of the night makes you bleary-eyed and tired the next day, which makes it that much more difficult to handle your responsibilities. Lay the groundwork for a good night's sleep by going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding caffeine late in the day and establishing a consistent bedtime routine.
  3. Watch Your Diet - Improper nutrition makes it that much harder to cope with stress as a nurse. Stick to a healthy diet, and make a point of having several small meals throughout the day. Drink plenty of water and eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as you can.
  4. Communicate Clearly - Stress in the workplace is often exacerbated by poor communication. When coworkers don't communicate clearly with each other, confusions and misunderstandings arise. Focus on communicating what you are trying to convey as clearly and concisely as possible. If you are not sure what someone is asking you to do, have them explain it again until you understand.
  5. Watch Out For Compassion Fatigue - The best nurses are empathetic people. However, that empathy sometimes goes a little too far, causing nurses to suffer from what is known as compassion fatigue. Basically, it means that you actually care too much and take too many things to heart. As a nurse, you also need to develop a bit of a thick skin, so concentrate on doing so to avoid this issue.
  6. Take Breaks - In the whirlwind of a busy day, it can seem downright impossible to step away for a minute or two. However, occasional breaks are crucial for nurses. It is up to you to make sure that they happen, so set up a break schedule and make sure that you take every break to which you are entitled.
  7. Be A Positive Thinker - As stress starts to build, it's easy to start viewing the world in a very negative way. Whenever you catch yourself being negative or pessimistic, stop and count backwards from 10. Think of something happy and positive to help you switch gears. Negative thoughts are not productive. You are the one who controls your thinking, so learn how to switch to positive thoughts when this issue occurs.
  8. Stay Organized - You are far less likely to feel stressed out and overwhelmed as a nurse when you know where everything is at any given time. Therefore, being organized is a major part of avoiding stress as a nurse. At the beginning of every shift, make a list prioritizing the things that you need to take care of. Keep your personal work area neat and tidy and your supplies organized and ready to go.
  9. Find A Mentor - New nurses understandably have the hardest time coping with stress in the workplace. Having a mentor to lean on can help immensely, so try to line one up. The right mentor will have plenty of experience and will be a willing shoulder to cry on. Having someone to vent to during the day helps a lot, and it makes you feel less alone too.
  10. Get A Different Job - If nothing that you try works and you continually feel overwhelmed by stress, it might be that your current nursing job simply isn't a good fit. Luckily, there are plenty of nursing jobs out there, so consider looking for a new job if all else fails. A new position might be all that you need to reduce stress levels considerably.

Nursing and stress may go hand in hand, but that doesn't mean that you should let it get you down. Take control by implementing the above tips during your shifts.

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